An Achievable Dream is a nonprofit, year-round, extended day public school borne out of its founder’s belief that all children can learn and succeed regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds; and that education can break the cycle of poverty. In partnership with Newport News Public Schools, we strive to close the achievement gap that currently exists in American education to ensure our students become productive citizens contributing positively to society.
We call the students of An Achievable Dream "Dreamers." But, Dreamers encompass more than our students. Dreamers include the dedicated teachers, staff and administrators; our education partners in Newport News Public Schools; the City of Newport News; our business partners; soldiers from Ft. Eustis and deputy sheriffs from Newport News; the Rotary Club of the Virginia Peninsula; our friends at the United States Tennis Association; friends, family, political leaders and most importantly, the parents, grandparents and guardians of our "dreamers." An Achievable Dream is a program designed not only for students, but also for their families -- our most valuable partners, because they help us keep the dream alive.
Learn more about An Achievable Dream keys to success and become a part of the "Dreamer" family.
SAME Program for All Students
Student and Parent Contract
Make the Right Decision
Social Rotation Classes-SpeakingGREEN
Social Rotation Classes-Peaceful Conflict Resolution
Social Rotation Classes-Healthy Living
Social Rotation Classes-Etiquette
Social Rotation Classes-Ethics
Social Rotation Classes-Financial Know-How
Longer Day & Extended Year
Contract School vs. Charter School
Military, Police and Sheriffs
SAME Program for All Students
An Achievable Dream is teaching children to become productive citizens with achievable dreams. Through our character development-based education program, "Dreamers" are learning to make the right decisions to live successful lives. Our trademarked curriculum, anchored by the SAME (social, academic, moral education) curriculum provides a proven framework for success.
Without An Achievable Dream, many of our students would be plagued with a social barrier that would stand in the way of their future success. As many in the business world acknowledge, first impressions in a job interview are key. Attire, eye contact, posture, greeting and handshake are just a few of the points noticed within the first introduction, and without a positive impression in these first few moments, individuals may feel as though they are on an uphill battle. In many families of poverty, parents do not have the time or knowledge to ensure children are prepared for the social norms, business etiquette and situations that they may encounter as a growing adult. An Achievable Dream works to ensure students are well versed in etiquette, proper language skills, proper attire and how to deal with conflicts peacefully in addition to strong academics.
Student and Parent Contract
Preparing any child for a successful future must be based on a partnership among the student, parents and school facility. At An Achievable Dream, we understand that we cannot be truly successful without the commitment of both the parents and student. At the beginning of each school year, our families sit and review their student’s academic plan and discuss the current goals for the year. It is at this point that all parties make a written commitment to the strategies geared for future success.
First and foremost, all of our students pledge each year to
- Stay Crime Free
- Stay Drug Free
- Neither become pregnant nor father a child
Among other items, parents agree to
Students sign and agree to
- Attend school each day and following academic instruction
- Keep uniform clean and neat, following dress code
- Contribute to a positive school-learning environment, socially, academically and morally.
Make the Right DecisionTM
Make the Right Decision is a character education concept that An Achievable Dream has fully integrated into our school’s social and academic culture. The trademarked reverse-pyramid symbol can be seen throughout the schools, on posters, curriculum binders and even on the students’ uniforms. We also have a hand symbol used by students and teachers alike to remind others to “make the right decision.”
Young people face choices every day, in our hallways and outside of school. By integrating this character concept into their everyday learning environment, we hope to help them be successful in school and in life.
One of the most recognizable and core features of An Achievable Dream is the morning handshake. Each student, from kindergarteners through 12th graders, enter the school building each day and are greeted by an adult with a friendly smile and “Good Morning.” Students are taught the basics of initial interaction by practicing this morning greeting with a firm handshake, direct eye contact and replying to the greeting with a “Good Morning”.
Throughout the hallways as many as 25 adults may greet the students daily. Administrators, soldiers, sheriffs and police officers begin every day at the entrance doors. Additionally, local community leaders, business executives, and additional visitors will join the line to welcome students.
In addition to this morning ritual, teachers greet their students prior to entering the classroom with another handshake and greeting.
Social Rotation Class - SpeakingGREEN
All Dreamers beginning with the 3rd grade attend SpeakingGREEN classes. In these classes, students are taught the difference between casual/slang conversation and formal/work-place appropriate conversation. Ensuring our students know and can recognize the situations where appropriate business conversation is required will give them an advantage among their peers. As green is the color of money, we ensure that students see the connection with proper language and communication skills and a successful business career. SpeakingGREEN focuses on proper elocution, grammar, verb and subject agreement, inappropriate use of slang and jargon and verbal manners.
As students progress to middle and high school, SpeakingGREEN also includes WritingGREEN, job interviewing techniques and public speaking.
Social Rotation Class - Peaceful Conflict Resolution
It is a fact that Dreamers see more conflict than many of their affluent counterparts in their daily lives from neighborhood interaction to conflict within their own home. An Achievable Dream believes having the skills to deal with this negative conflict will help keep our students from a life of crime and drugs. Students are taught how to get help from adults and other resolution forces when needed.
As one of our mandatory classes, all Dreamers attend Peaceful Conflict Resolution class. This class focuses on skills to deescalate a situation while maintaining one’s dignity. Students participate in role-playing scenarios, group activities and projects geared towards dealing with hostile situations.
Social Rotation Class - Healthy Living
All Dreamers attend classes in Healthy Living each year at An Achievable Dream. These classes are taught by Riverside Health System licensed and trained registered nurses.
Healthy Living classes explore age appropriate topics, including healthy food choices at home, proper physical and dental hygiene, proper exercise, the importance of sleep, avoiding negative activities like tobacco use, preventing the effects of sun damage, STD prevention and birth control.
Social Rotation Class - Etiquette
This class teaches our studetns the utensil setup of a table at a restaurant, the importance of holding the door for others, how to excuse oneself from a crowded row in a theatre, how to manuever through a food buffet and other scenarios in which the general public expects us to know how to behave.
While our classes instill the basic Golden Rule - “Always treat others the way you would like to be treated” , we go beyond this tenet and give students specific guidelines to assist in situations they may encounter in life.
During the years at An Achievable Dream, students are instructed on basic etiquette including sessions on table manners, dining out, telephone manners, written communication and the importance of writing notes, etiquette on the road, etiquette in business meetings, basic etiquette for international communication, etiquette at sporting events and concerts, netiquette, and rules for attire.
These skills are put to use at annual Dreamer etiquette dinner, sponsor receptions, student fieldtrips and daily interaction among teachers, staff and students.
Social Rotation Class - Ethics
Beginning in 6th grade, students are introduced to the concepts of appropriate action and ethics. An Achievable Dream takes great care in ensuring our students follow a moral compass that is built from within their own being and character. We begin the discussion with the concept that everyone has a fundamental set of guidelines that acts as a rule book for their personal actions, and then we discuss what type of guidelines should be included in their own set of ethics.
Students review and discuss well known case studies of ethics crises in public policy, government, business and headline news.
Social Rotation Class -Financial Know How
Beginning at An Achievable Dream Academy, students are taught to balance a checkbook. Their checking account is filled with deposits of merit points earned throughout the week through uniform inspections and good behavior. Students write checks at the school store for items including school supplies, field trip passes, incentives including movie passes, fast food gift certificates, etc. Students leave the Academy able to balance their checkbook and with an understanding of positive cash flow and earned merits. This checkbook is replaced with a ‘debit card’ upon entering middle school.
In addition to the basics of managing a checking account, beginning in 6th grade, Dreamers attend a Financial Know-How class geared at introducing them to the larger financial world that awaits.
Students participate in sessions focused on understanding basic credit; consumer loans including car loans, mortgage, and student loans; basic worldwide economics including the stock market; the importance of retirement and savings accounts; basic contracts including apartment leases; and creating monthly budgets.
An Achievable Dream believes that uniforms set a tone within the halls of our schools that allow for positive academic instruction.
In grades K-8, uniforms consist of An Achievable Dream polo shirts or sweat shirts, blue or black slacks, black shoes, and black or brown belt.
Families contribute $40 towards the cost of the uniforms each school year, with the remaining cost supported by donors and paid by An Achievable Dream.
Longer Day / Extended Year
At Achievable Dream, our students attend a longer school day. Students are in school for eight hours and 20 minutes, compared with the six hours and 20 minutes that is standard for public education. This extra time allows for a more rigorous and focused academic curriculum and also ensures time for social and moral curriculum.
Students also attend a year-round school year consisting of 202 days versus 182 days of a standard school year.
Contract School vs. Charter School
An Achievable Dream is a public school operating within the City of Newport News Public School (NNPS) system. In partnership with the City of Newport News, NNPS contracts to An Achievable Dream to operate its two schools An Achievable Dream Academy and An Achievable Dream Middle and High School maintaining all school board and state obligations and standards. An Achievable Dream also currently participates in partnership with Heritage High School on behalf of the Dreamers attending that facility.
Being a contract school allows AAD to build a S.A.M.E culture based on shared beliefs from our students, parents, teachers and staff. We receive financial support from NNPS in the exact same manner as every other public school within the system. However, to support the additional needs of our Dreamers, An Achievable Dream must find financial support outside of the school system and relies heavily on private donors to support the additional $2200 per Dreamer per school year needed.
As a public school, An Achievable Dream must be responsible for all state and local school regulations and academic accountability with standardized tests.
A charter school is an independent public school that operates independently of the district board of education. In effect, a charter school is a one-school public school district. At the time of inception in 1992, Virginia was not a charter-school friendly state.
Military, Police Officers and Sheriffs
Each day at 7:30 am, two busloads carrying active duty army soldiers arrive at An Achievable Dream Academy. Since 1992, the local Army Command at Fort Eustis has fulfilled a daily commitment to our Dreamers. These uniformed soldiers begin their day welcoming students and greeting Dreamers with a good handshake. Soldiers become a consistent part of our Dreamer’s daily routine by attending breakfast with the students, leading the morning pep rally, and performing uniform inspections. As positive role models, many of the soldiers build relationships with the students and sometimes lifelong bonds.
At the middle school level, we are pleased to see sheriffs’ deputies each morning greeting Dreamers, having breakfast with the students, uniform inspections and leading small group activities. Our high school Dreamers are greeted by members of the local police department, who also participate in breakfast, uniform inspections and the morning character development assembly.
Our students have goals. They set high expectations for themselves because our teachers and staff set high standards for them. Our students value education and life skills. Above all, our students have hope. They have dreams.